(bisons.com)-Star pitchers find a way to get outs using several pitches.
Two-time National League all-star Josh Johnson's fastball command wasn't perfect Saturday, but nearly everything else he threw was dominant.
Johnson threw four scoreless innings in his Triple-A debut for the Bisons. He allowed just one hit and one walk, while striking out three and the Bisons got a much needed 2-1 win against Indianapolis.
Only two balls left the infield while Johnson was on the mound, as he was able to get his slider and other off-speed pitches going early.
"That's what you want to do is get ground balls," Johnson said after his start. "I threw a couple good change-ups just off the plate, but it was good for me to be able to throw all my off-speed pitches for strikes. This was a good step."
Johnson threw a total of 68 pitches on the afternoon, 39 of those were for strikes. Throwing first-pitch strikes allowed Johnson to get ahead in the count and test the Indian hitters with curveballs and sinkers.
"I'm pretty happy. I wish my fastball command was better but the positive part is my slider was there to back me up and my curveball," he said. "I had a good sinker today, too. I was using both sides of the plate with everything, so it's a build on.
Johnson came away with a mostly positive attitude afterwards, due to his ability to throw his slider effectively even when his fastball wasn't up to par.
"My fastball command wasn't near the same as it was last outing, but my slider was there," he said. "I threw my slider a lot to get me back in the counts and the curveball the last inning to get me back in the count, so it was a good test."
Manager Marty Brown was impressed with Johnson's ability to stay in the count when he did not have complete control of his command at times.
"I thought he was pretty crisp," he said. "He got out of the zone a little bit at times, but then made some adjustments. Overall I thought he competed well. He made big pitches when he had to. I don't know if he feels one hundred percent right now, but I sure saw some good things."
The Bisons got their two runs in the top of the first inning. Second basemen Jim Negrych led off the game with a single and was followed up by another single to center by Eugenio Velez.
First baseman Luis Jimenez hit his league-leading 43rd RBI in the first inning on a single to center field in the next at-bat, scoring Negrych to give the Bisons an early 1-0 lead. Jimenez is batting .353 and has nine home runs on the season.
Two batters later, a wild pitch by Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Gerrit Cole allowed Velez to score, putting Buffalo ahead, 2-0.
Bisons hitters worked on Cole early, fouling off several pitches as the prospect threw 51 pitches in his first two innings.
Indianapolis scored its only run on a sacrifice fly by catcher Tony Sanchez in the fifth inning.
Closer Neil Wagner earned his 12th save of the season for the Bisons, which is second in the IL. After walking his first batter, Wagner struck out Felix Pie and Jared Goedert to end the game.
The series and homestand conclude with a single game Sunday afternoon at Coca Cola Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm.